The recent revelation that Access Bank Plc is among the list of financial institutions from Africa and the Middle East that have expressed interest in the acquisition of Union Bank Plc and other African assets of Atlas Mara Group, a Pan-African banking group, is a cheering news.
Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond, it was gathered has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Union Bank of Nigeria.
Indeed, listing Access Bank Plc among the suitors is a clear reflection of the resolve of the financial institution headed by Herbert Wigwe, its chief executive officer, not to relent in its aggressive expansion drive.
From a tiny bank in 2002, Wigwe who took over from his close friend and business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, in 2014, has completely transformed the bank which then was ranked 65th among 89 banks operating in the country.
Over the years, Access Bank has evolved from an obscure bank into a world-class African financial institution. Today, it is one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network; a feat which has been achieved through a robust long-term approach to client solutions – providing committed and innovative advice.
Access Bank has built its strength and success in corporate banking and is now applying that expertise to the personal and business banking platforms it acquired from Nigeria’s International Commercial bank in 2012.
As part of its continued growth strategy, Access Bank has continued to focus on mainstreaming sustainable business practices into its operations. The bank strives to deliver sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible, and socially relevant.
Wigwe has helped to develop some of Africa’s biggest companies in the construction, telecommunications, energy, oil and gas sectors through Access Bank.
Clearly, the news about Access Bank’s interest in Union Bank which came exactly a day after the former announced its completion of all regulatory procedures that led to the renaming of Grobank Limited as Access Bank South Africa Limited, showed that the Lagos-based financial institution is not ready to rest on its laurels.
The deal was finalised after Access Bank’s acquisition of controlling shares in the former Grobank Limited, South Africa. With this acquisition, Access Bank South Africa Limited is positioned to deliver a robust banking operation that connects key African markets.
During the official closing ceremony in Sandton recently, top executives of the two banks were upbeat about new opportunities for clients, noting that the bank will continue to support all its stakeholders, while opening doors to growth opportunities both in the short and long term.
To Wigwe, the acquisition in South Africa sealed Access Bank’s commitment to delivering its strategic aspirations of becoming Africa’s Gateway to the World, in line with its vision to be the ‘World’s Most Respected African Bank.’
“We look forward to the many opportunities our collective experience and deep understanding of the African market brings to our valued clients, and the journey ahead being one of great promise for our institution and the continent,” he added.
On his part, the CEO of Grobank Bennie van Rooy said, “This is an extremely exciting day for the South African banking industry. Our corporate customers will now have increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world.
“Banking with Access Bank South Africa means greater security as well as access to more products and services through a best-in-class digital platform, and a full retail banking suite will soon be on offer.”
Last month, Access Bank Plc also entered into a definitive and binding agreement with ABC Holdings Limited to acquire 78.15 per cent shareholding in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana). The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals and customary conditions precedent, is expected to close before the end of this quarter.
ABC Holdings is a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed group – Atlas Mara Limited.
The South African country is renowned for its quality sovereign credit rating and stability.
Access Bank’s market entry in the country as well as the sub-region, is expected to further solidify its strategy as, “a strong banking partner in key verticals across retail and corporate banking, including especially supporting trade in payments across southern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.”
Also commenting on the deal, Wigwe, said: “We remain committed to a disciplined and thoughtful expansion strategy in Africa, which we believe will create strong, sustainable returns for our shareholders and stakeholders at large, over the medium and long-term.
“The establishment of Access Bank through this acquisition in the Republic of Botswana will position the bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to its clients active in and across the SADC and COMESA regions.
“This transaction complements our recent strategic growth acquisitions in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique. We are building a bank of the future that Africans across Africa and the world would be proud of and look forward to welcoming the employees, customers and other stakeholders of BancABC Bostawana to Access Bank.”
In the string of expansion across the African continent – including Cameroon (operating license), Kenya (Transnational Bank), Zambia (Cavmont Bank), among others, the bank has said it intends to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) to expand its footprint to 20 countries across the continent.
According to Wigwe, across Africa, there is an opportunity for the bank to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA.
He said AfCFTA, among other benefits, would expand intra-Africa trade and provide real opportunities for Africa.
Wigwe said the bank would use its office in London to expand representative offices in India, Lebanon and China.
He stated that the plan is for the bank to establish its presence in 22 African countries so as to diversify its earnings and take advantage of growth opportunities in Africa.
According to him, Africa has enormous potential and there are opportunities for an African bank that is well run, that understands compliance and has the capacity to support trade and the right technology infrastructure to support payments and remittances, without taking incremental risks.
“We believe that we are best positioned to basically do all of that. Our focus is to become an aggregator in Africa and we are building a global payment gateway and providing trade finance support and correspondent banking across the continent. We are focusing on the key markets.
“The approach would always be that in the country we wish to go to, that we have the right skills. We would not just be a drop in the country in which we are present, we would make sure that we have an impactful presence in each of the major countries in which we are present.
“In doing this, we are also mindful of the country we are going to so as to make sure that it is of benefit to the bank. As we do this, we are working with our friends and partners.
“We are diversifying our earnings away from volatile markets as well and we are orchestrating our operations from the global payments gateway and ensuring that using Access Bank UK, providing corresponding services from digital platforms, the overall profitability of our franchise,” he explained.
Commenting further, on AfCFTA, he said the bank would use its digital framework to benefit from the deal.
“Coming to Nigeria, we think we need to continue to entrench ourselves in the local market because there is still so much work to be done.
“So, we are doing everything possible to satisfy our customers and also to ensure that our channels are adequately secured. We are also ensuring that our staff are very efficient,” the CEO said.
In view of the opportunities that exist in the market, Access Bank recently disclosed plan to transit to a holding company (HoldCo) structure. The bank has received the Approval-In-Principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria for the restructuring and the HoldCo will consist of four subsidiaries in order to tap into the market opportunities that are available in the consumer lending market, electronic payments industry and retail insurance market.
Access Bank Group will consist of Nigeria, Africa and international subsidiaries, while the payments subsidiary will leverage the strong suite of the bank’s assets, Wigwe said.
“Going into the fourth year of our 5-year cyclical strategy, our focus remains on consolidating our retail momentum and expanding our African footprint in a sustainable manner,” Wigwe said.
Also, in terms of its financial performance, despite the challenging operating environment, Access Bank delivered strong results in the first quarter (Q1) ended March 31, 2021 with the gross earnings printing at N222.1 billion was recorded, up by six per cent above the figures posted in the corresponding period of 2020. PBT rose by 30 per cent to N60.1 billion, from N46.2 billion, while Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 28 per cent to N52.6 billion compared with N40.9 billion in 2020 on the back of a 13 per cent growth in operating Income and a 16 per cent reduction in interest expense.
According to Wigwe, the performance showed the strong capacity of their business to generate sustainable earnings on the strength of their balance sheet, diverse revenue streams and their dedicated people.
“As a result of effective implementation of our cost reduction strategy, operating expenses remained flat, despite the inflationary environment and increased regulatory cost. Our retail banking business also showed steady growth with a 112 per cent increase in revenue to N57.5 billion and a 941,631 new customer sign-on via our financial inclusion drive during the quarter. This improvement is evidenced by the consistent and robust savings account growth to N1.3 trillion , leading to a significant reduction in our cost of funds,” he said.
He said the increased adoption of digital channels and the growing customer base, the bank recorded a 29 per cent growth in USSD transaction value and 40 per cent increase in mobile and internet banking transaction value.
“In line with our risk appetite and efficient risk management, our asset quality continued to improve as guided with NPL Ratio of4.0 per cent (Dec. 2020 4.3 per cent), as we intensified our recovery efforts.
“Likewise, we expanded our loan portfolio cautiously as reflected by the marginal growth in our net loans and advances to N3.65 trillion year-to-date (Dec 2020: N3.61trillion).
“Furthermore, we maintained robust capital and liquidity positions, well above regulatory levels with a Capital Adequacy Ratio of 22.2 per cent and a liquidity ratio of 48.3 per cent, positioning us to support our customers across various markets and adequately execute our expansion strategy.”
Therefore, it is expected that the bank’s aggressive expansion drive will see it contribute positively in rebuilding economies in Africa that have been ravaged by the pandemic through its support to micro, small and medium scale enterprises, corporates as well as households.
QUOTE: As a result of effective implementation of our cost reduction strategy, operating expenses remained flat, despite the inflationary environment and increased regulatory cost. Our retail banking business also showed steady growth with a 112 per cent increase in revenue to N57.5 billion and a 941,631 new customer sign-on via our financial inclusion drive during the quarter. This improvement is evidenced by the consistent and robust savings account growth to N1.3 trillion , leading to a significant reduction in our cost of funds.
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UBA Set To Reward Loyal Customers In Super Savers Draw PRL
Africa’s Global Bank, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is set to reward several of its loyal customers in its upcoming Super Savers Draw which will be held on Friday, May 27th at the UBA Head Office, Marina, Lagos.
The UBA Super Savers Draw is a promo organised by the Bank through a series of transparent draws which will see hundreds of its Savings Account holders, rewarded with huge prizes after a transparent draw. At the draws, one lucky customer will win N2 million, N1.2 million, N500,000 each; while N100,000 cash prize will be up for grabs for 20 Bumper Account holders.
Another 10 Savings Account holders will win N1million each and some university students with a NextGen Account will win a monthly salary of N15,000 for a year.
UBA’s Head, Personal Banking, Ogechi Altraide, who spoke ahead of the draws, explained that the Super Savers promo is yet again another opportunity for customers to have their lives transformed. All existing customers should do to qualify is to ensure that they save monthly in their UBA Savings Account, while new customers should simply dial *919*20# to open a UBA Bumper Account.
According to her, the Super Savers Draw is open to account holders of the bank from the six geographical zones in Nigeria and has something big for everyone. The aim is to appreciate loyal customers of the bank, who have cultivated a savings culture and stayed loyal to the bank over the years. It will also offer fresh opportunities for potential and intending customers to join the growing number of UBA millionaires and lucky winners who have in the past benefitted from various promos held by the bank.
Winners who recently emerged from the draw, include, Olunwa Osita Ambrose who smiled home with the star prize of a whooping N2m, while Saheed Adeshina Adediran won N1.2m rent for a year. Adewunmi Olaniyi Sobowale, another lucky winner got N500,000 shopping allowance.
Others who equally smiled home with N100,000 cash prizes were; Bayode Peter Oluwaseun, Archibong Unyime Gift, Yakubu Fali, Alaegbu Promise Uchenna, Onyenwenyi Chidimma Confidence, Maria Obianuju Onyeneke, Emmanuel Kalu, Aramide Afolabi Temitope, Ijeoma Juliet Okika, Taiwo Micheal Odofin, Daina Ochekema Egbe, Ighodalo Thompson, Mercy Effiong, Alice Gabriel, Imrana Bello, Onyedika Promise Umeji, Uzoma Chibuike Timothy, Adewole James Idowu, Opeyemi John Kolawole and Israel Ojima Daniel.
Altraide said, “Indeed, there is something for everyone in the Super Savers Draw and it goes without saying that UBA prioritises not only the financial well-being, growth and ultimate success of customers but also places them at the very heart of its business which is why the bank keeps making more and more of its customers millionaires. Our customers are special to us, and this is another opportunity to prove just that”.
“Without a doubt, UBA prioritises not only the financial well-being, growth and ultimate success of customers but also places them at the very heart of its business which is why the bank keeps making more and more of its customers millionaires”.
Since UBA commenced the promo in 2020, about 300 winners have emerged from the initiative that continues to reward loyalty and encourage customers to cultivate a savings habit. The last mega draws which was held in December 2021, saw lots of customers rewarded by the bank.
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-five (25) million customers, across 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints in 20 African countries. With presence in New York, London and Paris, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.
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“We’re Not Aware Of Alleged Sack Of Emefiele”, CBN Reacts
…Why He Can’t Be Sacked, Aisha Yesufu
The Central Banks of Nigeria, CBN has debunked reports that its Governor, Godwin Emefiele was sacked.
Several online media platforms particularly blogs had reported that the CBN governor was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While some social media users believe the president may need to go through legislative processes before sacking the governor, others have continued to spread rumours of his alleged sack.
The Head of Corporate Communications of the Central Bank, Osita Nwanisiobi said the purported sack was not true.
Denying the report, Osita said, “I heard it just the way you got it too. As far as I am concerned, it’s a rumour, I’m not aware of any sack”
Recall that the CBN Governor has been under pressure since he declared interest in running for president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
Some stakeholders had called for his sack over his involvement in partisan politics.
Meanwhile,a Nigerian socio-political activist, Aisha Yesufu has said President Muhammadu Buhari lacks the constitutional power to sack the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Reacting to the rumoured reports, the Activist said the president may need to go through legislative processes before sacking the apex bank governor.
In a tweet on her official Twitter handle, Aisha, however, said she would love the governor to be sacked over the alleged politicisation of his office.
She wrote, “In as much as I would love @GodwinIEmefiele to be sacked for all his incompetence, failure and politicisation of his office, the President cannot SACK a CBN Governor!
“There is a process and that process must be followed. It is called “Rule of Law”.
2,614 total views, 2 views today
CBN Raises Interest Rate To 13.5%
The Central Bank of Nigeria has raised the interest rate to 13.5 per cent.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced this on Tuesday while addressing the reporters after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja.
Justifying the raise, Emefiele said the MPC is suspicious “there might be an aggressive accretion of inflation”.
To prevent the looming inflation, he said, the MPC had to increase the monetary policy rate by 150 basis points.
752 total views, 2 views today
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